The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

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The Cellist of Sarajevo is set during the siege of Sarajevo, which took place from April 5th, 1992 to February 29th, 1996, and is the longest city siege in modern warfare. The inspiration for the book came from the true story of a cellist who decided to play on the site of a mortar attack every day for three weeks, to honor his neighbours killed in the blast. While the book is fiction, it is based upon many true accounts of what life was like during the siege.

The book follows three main characters trying to live out their lives under constant fear of attack. The sights, sounds, and sheer terror of everyday life for these people was brought across very vividly. It was very well written and easy to follow, but I felt that the use of three different characters fragmentated the book too much. It wasn’t long enough to develop each of their characters fully, and so no real story could develop.

If you’d like to get a sense of what life was like for these people during the siege, then this is a great book to read, but I wish that it had been longer, and included more of a plot.


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10 Comments

  1. Sandy says:

    The premise sounds fascinating. However, I am now sending all the karma I can muster for you to be knocked off your feet by a book!

  2. FleurFisher says:

    That’s disappointing. It looked like an interesting book but maybe the idea should have been developed a bit more. Please consider yourself tagged for this photo meme!

  3. Simon S says:

    Oh you keep beating me to it with these. I am currently reading The Bolter and your always a step ahead its most displeasing lol. I found the podcasts the other day and its made my week so much brighter lol.

  4. Jackie says:

    Simon – sorry I keep beating you! You’ve got about 5 days before I start on Netherland, if you want to get in there before me! Thank you for pointing out the podcasts, I hadn’t noticed those before.

  5. Bonnie says:

    This sounds interesting, and I appreciate your honest comments about the weaknesses in the story. I think I’ll put it on my list — just not right at the top of the list, perhaps!

  6. I liked it very much. I think the author dealt with the issue very well. Connecting the people the way he did here, worked for me.

    Plot or no plot.

  7. Jackie says:

    Gautami – I did enjoy it, I just think it would have been much better to have a plot, and be twice as long!

  8. Loue says:

    Cellist of Sarajevo is a simplistic book for lazy readers who will not be stimulated to read about the real events of this conflict. The plot in this book reads like “The Pianist”. http://www.swans.com/library/art15/wtrkla03.html

  9. Carla says:

    Try Pretty Birds by Scott Simon – same subject matter, but from a teenage girl’s viewpoint. I couldn’t put it down.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carla, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time! I haven’t heard of Pretty Birds before – thanks for drawing it to my attention.

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